Bringing Heat – Viola Grace

Idalia finished bringing her group of huffing tourists to the main floor of the lighthouse, and she smiled. “So, as you can see, you had to be fit to head up and down those steps every day, and it makes sense that the most common deaths for lighthouse keepers were falls.” One of the teachers wheezed, “What was next?” “Fire and then death trying to rescue wrecked sailors.” Idalia paused. “It is a simple way to go, but it left so many loved ones behind.” A woman with eyes that gently swirled said, “Were you left behind?” Idalia paused, and all eyes moved in her direction. “I was. We were in love, we were teens, and he died trying to rescue someone who didn’t know how to swim. They both died.” The woman nodded. “Idalia, may I speak with you?” “I am not done my tour.” The group was wheezing, and she looked at them. “And that concludes my tour of the lighthouse.” The woman nodded. “Please, come with me.

I will buy you a coffee somewhere out of the wind.” Idalia shrugged and headed out with the strange woman in the designer suit. “Who are you, and what is going on in your eyes?” “Ah, you noticed that? Well done. I am Minerva-Gaia, and I do the recruiting for the Reset Project. You applied to be a Terran Volunteer decades ago, but you were rejected at the time.” Idalia walked with her and nodded. “I was. They said I was emotionally unstable, and in hindsight, I was. Grief is a harsh mistress.” “Yes, but your genes were tested, and we recently got a request for a young woman of your genotype.” Idalia pulled her grey braid over her shoulder. “I am hardly young.” “Ah, that is where the reset part comes in. Let’s get that coffee.” They got their beverages and settled in the corner, talking.

“Using off-world DNA, we can reset your body to the time where you were the strongest, physically mature, and most intelligent. We can give you the benefit of every gene that sleeps. You will be taller, stronger, healthier than you have ever been.” Idalia laughed. “Can I be warmer? I don’t think I have felt warm in nearly thirty years.” “It is funny you should say that…” Idalia listened as the tasks and duties were outlined, and she laughed. “I have to walk over a volcanic crevice and stand there every few days?” “Yes. The rest of your time is your own.” “How will my body take the heat?” “That is the point of the reset. You will become impervious to heat. You will take it into your skin and use it to keep you warm. The issue arises with the urgency of the matter. Los is in desperate need of someone to bring the fire to the surface. Will you do it?” “What happens after I bring the fire?” “You live with the resources of a world at your disposal. You can do whatever you like.

Perhaps you can even travel to other stars.” “When would this happen?” “Well, we rather need you to leave immediately. There is a flight window, and we want you travelling as soon as possible.” “Why the rush?” She hunched around her cup and looked into the dark brew. “Los is dying. Freezing. The fire must be pulled to the surface and held there if the planet is to survive. To hold the fire on the surface, they need you.” “I don’t think that I am actually needed.” “The physiology required to survive the fire on Los can be found in one place on Earth, and that place is sitting across from me with a rapidly cooling coffee.” “How does that happen?” Minerva smiled and shrugged. “No one knows. Random combination, an alien ancestor, or just your mother craving something specific during pregnancy, but you are what the Los need, and if you agree to the contract, we will deliver it.” Minerva held out a tablet and nodded to her to read it. Idalia pulled out her reading glasses and began to read.

Her cup was refilled twice before she finished the contract on a comprehensive read. Idalia sat back. “If you can do what you say and this is accurate, I would really go back to appearing young?” Minerva grinned. “I am glad you didn’t say being young because that is something else. But, yes. Your body would be reformed into the best shape you can possibly be. Muscle tone, skin tone, and mental acuity. You will be reset to the best you can be.” “And then the alien additions kick in.” “Correct. It will be a long trip, so there is plenty of time for you to be reshaped.” Idalia tapped her finger. “According to this, there is a warship waiting for me. They will transport me.” “Correct.

” “Are they threatening Earth?” Minerva shrugged carelessly. “A little. They are making threats, but we have bigger defenses at our disposal. They wouldn’t even make a dent. They will refer to you as the sacrificial maiden, but there is no sacrifice, and you are not a maiden. That is just ridiculous. Most of those guys wouldn’t know a hymen if it snapped them in the face. It is just a tense band of tissue, not a freshness seal.” Idalia snorted. “I had been terrified, but we went slow and then nothing happened but joy. I remember that much about it.” Minerva smiled slowly. “You had a good man for as long as you had him.” Idalia rubbed her arms. “I was warm then.

I remember that. He was my sun and my warmth, and we were going to spend every day together, and then, he was gone.” “And he will always be gone, but have you mourned him enough?” Idalia looked up and at her worn and grey reflection in the window. “I have.” “Then, make a decision. If you say yes, I will fly you to the shuttle immediately.” “Yes.” Idalia took a deep breath, signed the contract, and pressed her thumb to it before lifting it for the ocular scan. “Done.” Minerva smiled. “Finish your coffee. It is going to be a long flight.” Idalia finished her coffee, got the ball of warmth inside her, and then, she and the stranger walked into the street outside. Minerva hugged her, and they were flying. Idalia yelped and hung on as they cruised toward the open ocean and the ship that was hovering above the waves.

“Now?” “I wasn’t kidding when I said they were in a hurry. There is a travel window that they need to hit, or it will delay you by six months, and that might cost them thousands of lives. They need speed.” They flew into the ship, clothes were removed, scans were done, and injections were administered in a whirlwind. When a swirling orange substance was injected, she felt warm, and then she slept. Things were going too fast. Idalia woke, and her world had a funny curve. She reached out and found the edges of her tube. There was a screen, and it lit up as she touched it. She heard a voice in her head. What would you like to learn today, Idalia? She looked at the options, and astronavigation was what she wanted to know about. The words were in an alien language, and then, she asked about the tank, and when one of the shadowed figures got close to her, she asked about Los-species specifications. The Los are an altered species, grey skin, crimson eyes. The skin is thick to slow heat loss and gain. Anatomy is similar to humans and at the edge of the compatibility range.

Compatibility range. The range of compatible species who can safely have sex with humans of Earth. Minor changes to your physiology make the differences safe for humans. Her eyes flicked to that statement. Minor changes. Your vagina is more elastic, has been elongated for compatibility, and your uterus is now suited for a Los offspring. Over your body your skin is now beginning the changes to a Los, though you are only eighty percent of an average female height for their species. Idalia lifted her hands and looked at the grey cast under her skin that was becoming obvious. She looked at her tablet and asked more questions about her current appearance, had her eyes changed, and how much longer until she was out of the tank. Your appearance is still in flux, your eyes have turned black for your assigned purpose, and your body will complete transformation in seven more days. You have been in the tank for seventy-five days. Idalia looked at the figures who passed by her on a daily basis. They checked her tank, topped off her levels, and then left her alone with her computer. What fun. She asked another question and got the answer.

Yes, you have been programmed with Los main dialect and seventeen other surrounding languages. No one is speaking to you because they do not believe that you will be done in time and do not want to get attached to you if you fail. If you fail. If your development has not completed by the time you assume your duties, you will die. Idalia exhaled a stream of bubbles. Well, it had said as much in the contract, but it was nice to have it confirmed by a disembodied voice. She had to finish growing her skin and whatever else she needed, or she would die. No pressure.


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Updated: 15 September 2021 — 03:21

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